Follow your gut instincts

May 19th, 2011 by Douglas McEncroe · No Comments · Liderazgo

With the financial crisis and in a globalized world, managing is becoming exponentially more complicated. In my experience the great majority of managers feel more comfortable making a decision when they have a lot of solid data to back them up. But today, getting that data is becoming harder and harder.

Intuition is a valid management tool

On the CNN web page today there is a great article about the success of the Apple stores in which the author points out that ten years ago when Apple announced that it was going to launch a major retail project, all the “experts” said that they were crazy. For an Apple groupie from way back nothing makes me happier than seeing Steve Jobs kick another goal, but the interesting thing about this story is that if they had based their decision on hard data they would never have opened their first shop.

And what a success it has been. Ten years after launching the project they have 317 stores worldwide that boast annual earnings of some $3.2 billion, a figure that represents 13% of Apple’s total sales. Not bad for a crazy idea.

But not only that, Apple get to have more control of the customer’s experience, a real attraction for someone like Steve Jobs, but also good business, and their slick store design has done a lot to further enhance the strength of the brand.

Your brain is not enough

In a great book on Leadership by David Dotlich, Peter Cairo and Stephen Rhinesmith, called “Head, Heart and Guts”, the authors point out that in this fast moving world where uncertainty is about the only thing you can be sure of, you can’t just lead with your head, relying on a rational analysis of the available facts will not be enough to make the appropriate decisions, mainly because the facts that aren’t available are just the one you need. A lot of the time you are just going to have to go with your intuition (guts) and get the people on board with your people skills, (heart).

I don’t know how much heart Steve Jobs has but he has intuition by the bucket load, and by following it with the idea of opening the shops he made a great business decision. Of course the whole Apple team managed the execution perfectly, wonderful locations, inspired design and great selection and training of staff, not to mention a great product. Clearly intuition is not enough, you have to execute well too, but if we wait for the hard data to make our decisions in today’s world, we will clearly miss the boat.

Ideas for following your intuition

  • Know your market.
  • Understand what is happening in the world around you.
  • Be clear about what you want to achieve and why.
  • Dare to image different possibilities.
  • Don’t procrastinate.
  • Execute well.

So don’t wait too long to make your decision, someone else will get there first.


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